MIDLAND, Texas — It is a company whose impact reaches far beyond Earth, and it is located right here at Midland's Spaceport Business Park.
AST SpaceMobile is a space-based cellular broadband network. This Summer AST will be saying lift-off to their second test launch satellite, Blue Walker 3.
This test launch is all part of SpaceMobile's big goal of using satellites to provide cellular 4G and 5G speeds all over the world.
"What it does is it can connect directly to cell phones, so we will be doing testing to prepare for our constellation that we're launching starting next year," said Scott Wisniewski, Chief Strategy Officer at AST SpaceMobile.
This test launch is just the beginning. A main launch of the big satellites, called BlueBirds, is expected next year.
"Those are designed to connect to cell phones, and many users at once globally," said Wisniewski. "So our satellites will be in low Earth orbit, so about 700 kilometers from Earth, and they'll be moving at 17,500 mph."
You may be asking how is it that satellites built right here in Midland can go to space and connect to billions around the world?
Well, Wisniewski said the closeness and size of the satellites make this possible.
"That's part of the reason why our satellites are big, is because if the satellite is big, then the phone can be small, because the satellite is able to listen really hard and push the signal down to Earth," said Wisniewski.
With not everyone having easy access to cellular connection, the launch of these satellites will help bridge the digital divide.
"About half of the World's population doesn't have cellular broadband, and about half a billion people don't have any cellular connectivity whatsoever, so there are a lot of challenges globally," said Wisniewski. "We are connecting directly with 5 billion phones that are in use today, which makes the market potential for our service very large."
The launch of the BlueWalker 3 is set to happen this summer at Cape Canaveral with Space X. When it does, it will be carrying satellites that were built right here in West Texas.